As the fall season approaches, I find myself taken back to the time I spent living in Honduras. I’ve been thinking about the church I attended there, Espíritu Santo, and one Sunday when I showed up completely unprepared. Unbeknownst to me, this particular Sunday at the end of August was ‘Harvest Sunday’. Everyone (except for me) came to church with fruits and vegetables.
Many people in the Tela community and surrounding areas are farmers by trade. Local crops include plantains, bananas, lychee, coconuts, avocados, mangoes, and corn. Church members living in the surrounding villages (that travel into town for church on Sundays) have small plots of land where they grow food for their families. For this special day, those who didn’t grow their own crops stopped by the market in order to contribute something. Bishop Allen, the Episcopal Bishop of Honduras, was visiting. He prayed a special blessing over the community’s collective harvest, thanking God for His provision. He prayed for the impoverished members of the community who would receive the food.
Having only been in Honduras for about a month, I was still figuring things out. The initial excitement of being in a new place was wearing off, and the reality of daily life in a developing country was setting in. With this, I was very aware of the things that seemed different from back home. This simple ceremony was just one of many new experiences I would have while living abroad that would help me see things from a different perspective.
What struck me that day was how willing people were to give – and my awe at their generosity only grew the longer I stayed in country. I had the honor of visiting the homes of several of the families who brought in food to share. Some families lacked running water and electricity, and they may have had one bed for their entire family. Their homes were made of corrugated tin or unfinished wood, and they had dirt floors. The fact that these families willingly gave of their limited resources inspired me, and it has changed my perspective on gratefulness and generosity.
For those of us who live in a developed country, this story may seem distant. The further I get from my experience in Central America, the more distant it feels to me, as well. In America, even if we struggle to make ends meet, we have much to be grateful for. Water flows from our pipes; we have electricity at the flip of a switch; there is a safe hospital nearby. Yet it is easy to get caught up and stressed out by the demands of our society and the very real health, financial, and relational challenges we face on a regular basis. My memory of Harvest Sunday continually reminds me that even when things are challenging, there is always something to be grateful for. Our gratitude then can animate a desire to share the abundance that we have been given.
We have each been cultivating something this past year – probably not bananas or mangos, but something just as sweet! Now that the weather has turned and pumpkins are on display at every grocery store, the excitement of the fall season is palpable. The harvest is upon us! May we each take a moment to pause and consider what our unique harvest is, thanking God for His provision and asking Him how He would use us to His glory!
This Sunday, October 21st at 9:15 am, come celebrate God’s provision and commemorate the fall harvest as a parish at the Harvest Party. Meet in the Parish Hall for breakfast and fellowship!
This article was written by Becky Gleason, Children’s Minister.